Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm Idriss and I live in the Hague, where I was born and raised. I'm married and am the father of a little boy. In my free time, I love exercising and football. Besides physical activities, I love reading and listening to podcasts, thinking and dreaming along. I studied economics and business in Rotterdam. I pursued a degree in this field because I enjoyed economics as a subject in high school. It gave me a lot to think about regarding society, how it works and how it can become more prosperous. I was very interested in achieving goals within government and worked in that field for a while. Then I transferred into management consulting.
I have a foundation that I created and run as a chairman. We have the clear goal of speeding up the emancipation of Moroccan-Dutch citizens in the Netherlands. This mission is based on my own background and my personal belief that you should give back to society: the pay-it-forward principle. Although I am more of a business administration guy these days, I enjoy diving into economics. It's always interesting to think about how society can give more benefits and wealth to the people who need it the most.
What drew you to IG&H?
At first, it was the idea of strategy consulting within financial services. What drew me specifically to IG&H was knowing that they are a top-tier player in the market. Second, only a few big consultants playing at this level are of Dutch origin. The culture immediately struck me during my interviews. Yes, it's results-driven but it's also very warm. When I started here, I became aware of the caring and daring philosophy. This drew me to IG&H. I like knowing that I can thrive as a consultant and as a leader within the company but also stay true to myself and have a healthy work-life balance.
What is your role & what does it involve?
I work as a management consultant in the pensions team. I'm a manager in the financial services practice. This involves a mix of working on content as well as discussing with my team and the client.
What does a typical day at IG&H look like?
There isn't any typical day. Most days, I start with collecting my thoughts and structuring my workload. At 9 o'clock we then have a 'dagstart' either with colleagues or the client to discuss how the work is progressing. We see if there are difficult things we need to talk about. I try to plan important meetings in the morning because I love working on content in the afternoon. That's the structure I aim for, but it depends.
What do you enjoy most about working at IG&H?
The challenges I face in client work. It needs thoroughness; it deserves hard work and discipline. After I finish work, I always feel delighted and tired. It demands a lot, but that's exactly the part I enjoy. Like a soccer game, after which you feel tired but also fulfilled.
What has been your proudest moment at IG&H?
I've been here three years, so there are many moments. We did extensive prep work and took the time to design a bespoke solution that proved itself within the client’s company. It bought them time and brought value to their customers! This was one of my happiest moments.
You mentioned a foundation, what kind of volunteer work are you doing?
I head a leadership institute for young Moroccan-Dutch leaders. Our goal is to improve the societal position of the Moroccan-Dutch community in the Netherlands. By doing so, we help make the Netherlands a stronger and more beautiful nation. To improve the community's standing, we need to generate and mobilize change from within. Leaders drive this change.
Every year, we recruit and select top talent from the community. These people have shown skill and dedication to improving society. The recruitees are usually between 20 and 25 years old and are still studying. We provide them with a program called The Leadership Academy. They receive training and coaching, but also learn by doing fieldwork. This approach should enable them to become strong community leaders. We believe that strong leaders build stronger communities. We develop leaders and hope they aspire to become better versions of themselves, giving back to the community and society as a whole.
Why is this work important to you?
Both my parents came from Morocco, and I was born here. First of all, I grew up in difficult times. I was twelve and started 'middelbare school' when 9/11 happened. Just before that, Moroccan-Dutch people were getting more bad press. Growing up in such a social climate made me very aware and grateful for how I was raised. I performed well in school and had great opportunities ahead of me. But some people with the same background are less fortunate. The problems they face, without me consciously willing, also affect me. People may have a certain perception of me as an individual because of a general perception of my background.
The work we do with this foundation is important to me for various reasons. On the one hand, there are unsolved problems in the entire community. There is a lot of untapped potential. I realized things were going well for me individually. Nonetheless, there's a connection with the community because of a shared background, history, language, etc. I feel the responsibility to give back. So I asked myself, “How could I do that in the best way?” By giving back to my community, I help a lot of other people with the same background of the same generation. I chose this path almost 10 years ago.
The concept of this program evolved from past initiatives. I had joined a similar program which was a life-changing experience for me. Most of my friends are from that time in my life. I truly enjoy doing the work!
Why is it important to IG&H?
Many colleagues compliment me for this effort, also from the leadership team. From the beginning, a couple of managing directors from IG&H provided me with guidance and support. They told me to ask for help if I needed it - and I did.
How is IG&H supporting your work for Young Leaders Community?
IG&H supports me in several ways. For instance, by allowing me to use the office space. Here, we have meetings with the leadership team of the foundation. Sometimes you'll find me having meetings here in the evenings, or on a Saturday or Sunday. My colleagues support me by providing training sessions to the young leaders in our institution. We've also had inspirational talks, a creative innovation training session and even a DiSC training session, with IG&H donating half the fee. Finally, I sometimes ask the managing directors for guidance.
As a colleague with a diverse background, do you feel included within IG&H?
Yes, of course. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to enjoy my work and thrive. Although I'm not "mainstream" within IG&H, we have a culture of increasing understanding between people. We listen attentively and care about each other. You can differ from each other but always have a foundation of trust. You can work together and respect each other's needs, wishes or opinions.
Do you feel you get the same opportunities as anyone else?
I do. The thing I like about IG&H is that I'm Moroccan-Dutch and it's visible, but I'm just treated as Idriss. I'm treated as a leader, as a consultant and as a professional. I also feel very safe talking about my background. For instance, mentioning I have a grandparent in Morocco that I wish to visit every year, even if it's only three days and talk about my experiences there. I'm regarded and approached as Idriss. I always feel I'm included and get the same opportunities.
Why do you think it's not so easy to attract people with diverse backgrounds?
This is a difficult question with many parts to it. I would say it's not hard to recruit more people with diverse backgrounds in general. However, in my opinion, two things make it difficult for IG&H in particular. First, let’s look at it from a 'talent supply' perspective. Management consulting is a specialization within consulting. Many people with a migration heritage (Moroccan, Turkish, Surinamese-Dutch) are raised with other professions as a goal. These are more clear-cut, like becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer.
Nobody at the age of ten says, "You know what? I want to become a consultant". If you are not aware of this branch of work - its importance and impact - and what it requires, you don't aspire to it. Not being aware of this means you miss critical marks early on.
The second issue is representation. People apply to firms where they see role models that look like them. This was not an issue for me personally as I saw it as an opportunity to work in a predominantly white organization and be successful. But for some people, this lack of diversity at first glance is unappealing. Having representation and communicating it shows you are not only preaching inclusivity but practicing it. We have role models here at IG&H that thrive without difficulties due to their background. You need to find a wave of pioneers to join first.
Are there any updates on your foundation?
Yes, I feel very honored and proud to have received an "Appeltjes van Oranje" award on behalf of our foundation Young Leaders Community! Besides recognition for the foundation and all the volunteers who put in the time, passion and energy into helping the community, this is also a recognition of the power of that community itself. I'm extremely grateful to contribute to this great initiative. A huge thank you to the team, volunteers, participants and sponsors who all share in this success!